West Seattle storm scenes: Navigating Nickelsville

(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
As we first showed you during afternoon storm coverage, getting around the West Seattle encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” was like hopscotch this afternoon – and that was even after residents built a walkway.

(From left, Matthew and JS using pallets for a walkway over the water and mud)
WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams went to Nickelsville this afternoon after we learned from a volunteer that the camp was in need of fuel to power generators to provide power to pumps, to deal with the floodwater brought by today’s two-inch deluge.

That’s Nickelsville head of security Steve Westfall, surveying the scene.

A year and a half has now passed since the encampment returned to the triangle of public land at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW – a site for which they have neither been officially organized nor told to get out, unlike the encampment’s original stay at the same site in September 2008, which lasted less than a week before police were ordered to go in and evict the campers. Nor, still, do they have running water or other basic services. There has been some talk of moving to another site – if somebody helps find one.

33 Replies to "West Seattle storm scenes: Navigating Nickelsville"

  • Diamond November 19, 2012 (9:56 pm)

    I know there is a charter 12 violation against the state for not giving land. It’s under the lines of creul and unusual treatment. I would set a onset lawsuit against this county. Talk to the houseing justice program in the courthouse.

  • LREL November 19, 2012 (10:11 pm)

    How can we help? What do they need?

  • miws November 19, 2012 (10:37 pm)

    My thoughts are with the folks down at Nickelsville.


    We had some pretty bad flooding during my stay down there last year, but not as bad as what I’ve heard, and can tell from the pics, today’s flood is.



  • Moose November 19, 2012 (11:00 pm)

    I dropped off some gas for their pump. I asked if I could bring shovels to help dig a trench to drain the lake they have going on but was told they aren’t allowed do to the toxin in the ground. it’s sad! Such an easy fix and “someone” says oh no – digging a small trench to drain the water off isn’t allowed. I wanted to just do it but would never risk them getting evicted (again). Pumping is a shame of a waste of their meager resources.

  • anti-obstruction November 19, 2012 (11:16 pm)

    My thoughts are with the homeless tonight, especially as we, the more fortunate, anticipate the joys and material comforts of the coming holidays.

  • SomeOtherMike November 20, 2012 (12:41 am)

    Well that makes no sense. The residents of Nickellsville must marinate in the “toxins” and drain it using a gas pump.

  • miws November 20, 2012 (6:49 am)

    Thanks for dropping off the gas, Moose.


    Yeah, sadly residents aren’t allowed to disturb the ground, due to an official study showing a very good likelihood of the soil being toxic.



  • Scooterista November 20, 2012 (7:14 am)

    Well, this is appalling. There has got to be a better place for them to live than this toxic swamp of a wasteland. How much land do they need? What are the other requirements? And what else could they use to get through what promises to be a really soaking next few days?

    • WSB November 20, 2012 (7:21 am)

      Scooterista – we’re going to follow up this morning. Our friends at KING 5 have already picked up the story and have a crew there live during their morning newscast (which airs on KONG 7-9 am so that’s where you’ll find it right now, channel 6) and they mentioned tarps, for starters.

  • ghar72 November 20, 2012 (8:16 am)

    I’m sure dry socks would be welcome. I remember someone last year talking about the process of getting socks dry and how tedious it is. Maybe it was in the journal DBP was posting in the forums.

  • JoB November 20, 2012 (9:02 am)

    I was there this morning. One of the local businesses lent them a commerical pump for the day and they were clearing the water from the West end as i left.

    when i asked the 25 or so people who were still there this morning what they needed most they mentioned socks, clean dry blankets, rainboots and batteries…

    i am hopeful that enough of the water will be cleared from the front of the camp to allow operation sack lunch to deliver their hot lunch at 1.

    the propane stoves are above the water line so it is possible to heat water, but there is little so restorative as a hot meal on a rainy day.

  • furryfaces November 20, 2012 (9:26 am)

    We left a message with the animal coordinators to see if folks need assistance with their animals. We have offered to temporarily board the cats at Kitty Harbor (thank you Delyn), and if any of the dogs need boarding we’ll be reaching out to others to help board them too.

    Depending on what the animal coordinators share with us, we may be doing an urgent ‘drive’ to replace healthy pet food, kitty litter, food for the goats, collars, leashes, etc.

    We will keep everyone informed.
    Cheers, the F3 Gang

  • Teri Ensley November 20, 2012 (9:33 am)

    Just some thoughts of how are community can assist:

    1. Are there any churches that can offer temporary sleeping quarters in their community rooms or gymnasium?

    2. Perhaps people need rides to the laundromat to wash ‘n dry wet clothes. Or individuals can help just one person by picking up all their wet items; take them home to wash ‘n dry; then bring the items back. If enough individuals offered to do this, a laundromat trip would be unneeded.

    3. ‘Dry Feet Fund’. I’m going to contact a couple local businesses to see if they would be willing to sponsor a ‘Dry Feet Fund’ for NV where folks can go in and donate towards rain boots and warm socks. (Last year Home Depot had rubber work boots for about $10 each).

    4. Contact the City and ask for support of NV residents.

  • Wetone November 20, 2012 (9:34 am)

    Where can I sign up for free utilities ? If this place qualifies and gets the utilities their asking for I want the same. If they don’t like where there living get a job if they don’t already, pool there money together and rent a place or just move. I work hard pay my taxes and what do I get ? more taxes and bigger utility bills to help subsidize this stuff. By the way I will gladly donate a shovel and pick so they can dig a trench. If the soil is to contaminated to put a small trench in there for drainage people should not be walking on that soil or living there. I can see it now the next big lawsuit against the city. People of Nickelsville win millions from city of Seattle for being forced to live on toxic soil.

    • WSB November 20, 2012 (9:48 am)

      Wetone – NO FREEBIES have been requested here. What Nickelsville has requested (and we have reported repeatedly over the past year and a half) is to be able to *hook up* to the city utilities that are available in the area. They do their own fundraising and donation drives to fund what they are using to rudimentarily get by and would pay for the utilities – they just asked for the hookup, and have been denied. No different than the city allowing you to access water/sewer/drainage (assuming you are a city resident) at your home so long as you pay for it – TR

  • Gyngersnap November 20, 2012 (9:49 am)

    These comments restore my faith in humanity.

  • Emily November 20, 2012 (10:24 am)

    I’d like to donate supplies and perhaps help launder wet things. Do you know who I should contact?

    Apologies if you’ve already posted this elsewhere.


    • WSB November 20, 2012 (10:38 am)

      Hi – you need to just take the items to Nickelsville, which is at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW, in the triangle of land down at the bottom of the HP Way hill. Parking lot/entrance is on the south side. I need to make a map before our followup story, which will be up in a bit.

  • miws November 20, 2012 (11:11 am)

    Thank you to everyone that is stepping up to help the folks at NV.


    Wetone, I shouldn’t even dignify your comments with a response, but some of the people at NV do have jobs. Others have health issues that prevent them from working. There are Veteran’s down there that are getting a raw deal from the Country they fought for.


    Have you had kids that went through the Seattle School System, Wetone? If so, back before an extended illness cost me my job, I contributed to their education and that of other SPS students for decades, and voted for more school levies than against, despite never having kids myself. Your welcome.


    You know what, if it weren’t for Nickelsville, and some great supporters, many, if not most of which got involved through a connection with WSB, I likely would have been on the streets last year, and quite possibly been dead by now, because the pneumonia I had a year ago may not have been properly taken care of.


    I apologize to others, if this post isn’t very articulate. but I just get tired of the “screw them” attitude that some have towards the less fortunate, and am quite angry after reading Wetone’s comment.


    I do take great solace in knowing that those with that attitude are a minority in this great community of generous people.


    The generous folks can take great comfort in a couple of days, as they gather with family and friends, that they have touched many lives in a very positive way.


    The “screw them” crowd, can just wallow in their own misery…..



  • Eilene Hutchinson November 20, 2012 (11:12 am)

    There is a Nicklesville website with contact info and the most recently posted lists of needs (it is a “pre-flooding” list):


  • Pneumonia and hypothermia kill November 20, 2012 (11:19 am)

    City leadership: FAIL

  • Emily November 20, 2012 (11:21 am)

    Thanks WSB & Eilene. I’ll try to stop by this afternoon and see if there is anything I can do to help post-flooding.


  • JoB November 20, 2012 (11:21 am)

    you are obviously dry this morning.
    lucky you.

  • miws November 20, 2012 (12:17 pm)

    After re-reading my post with a bit clearer mind, I can see that I missed at least two typos, after the initial proofreading and editing.


    “Veteran’s” s/b “Veterans”, and “Your welcome” s/b “You’re welcome”.



  • Wetone November 20, 2012 (1:04 pm)

    Not really JoB, I have been outside working in the rain digging a couple drainage ditches out along with cleaning some gutters. I have to work to pay my bills and I do what it takes. I’m not knocking any of you that want to help Nickesville and even applaud you. I even said I would donate a shovel and pick so they could do a little ditch work and have a dryer place to live. Hooking up power down there would be expensive to have done right, for safety issues and liabilities. Going the wrong direction. If they have money for that they should rent an old warehouse or building that already has the proper utilities. Money ahead. Have to finish my sandwich now and get back to work.

  • JoB November 20, 2012 (2:23 pm)


    I am glad you are able to get out into the rain to dig ditches and clear gutters to make your rent.

    i wish everyone who is wet today was able to say the same, but too many simply can’t.

    the assumption is that the people who end up at Nickelsville only do so because they are “too lazy” to go out and get a job.

    although i will agree with you that i have met people like that there…

    most of the people who are at Nickelsville are there because they literally have no other place to go…

    incluging several who work regular jobs and are saving what they can from minimum wage jobs to accrue deposits and rent money to move indoors.

    at Nickelsville the guys who are too lazy to work lit out for drier ground when the water started to rise.

    you won’t find them there today.

  • Kayleigh November 20, 2012 (2:28 pm)

    If I’m ever so spiritually small as to envy the “free stuff” of homeless people living hand-to-mouth in wet, cold, and vulnerable conditions, will one of you please drag my butt to church? Or something?

  • Teri Ensley November 20, 2012 (3:10 pm)

    What MIWS said! Well done…as usual.

    As stated in my first post, we are working on a ‘Dry Feet Fund’.

    We have contacted one business owner so far and she gave a resounding ‘yes’ on collecting donations. Thank you to Lora Swift, owner of Hotwire Online Coffeehouse, located at 4410 California Ave SW. She is always on the front line of making a positive difference in our West Seattle Community. We will be taking a flyer and envelop to Hotwire after work today, so give us a couple hours before heading in there to donate.

    We will contacting a few more local businesses to see if they would also like sponsor the ‘Dry Feet Fund’. Stay tuned. More to come a little later this evening.

  • ws maverick November 20, 2012 (3:15 pm)

    free bath from mother nature

  • Ajax November 20, 2012 (3:43 pm)

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you, Wetone! It’s good to see someone who really understands the meaning of the holiday.

  • kathy November 21, 2012 (12:03 pm)


    I truly feel sad for you. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in your skin. Unbelievable. Everyone else…I am so impressed with all of the caring and rising to action. My Thanksgiving plans fell through and I just figured out what I’m going to do—visit Nickelville with gifts in arms. You all inspire me.

  • miws November 21, 2012 (1:20 pm)

    kathy, I’m sorry that your original plans fell through, but you are truly making lemonade out of lemons!


    Thank you! :-)



  • Wetone November 22, 2012 (9:11 pm)

    Thanks kathy, there is no reason to feel sorry for me as I,m having a great time in my life. But my skin is a little dry sense you mention it. I Work Hard and enjoy my life very much. I do what it takes. Everyone here has their own opinions and that is what makes this wonderful world go round. I never criticized anyone, but I have no problem voicing my opinion where my tax dollars should go. If it was spent smartly for the reasons I said above I would not have any issues. It has always amazed me how people with such good souls can criticize others that don’t follow them.

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